The Houston Astros haven’t been reported in talks on replacing Carlos Correa at the shortstop position, while they are still in the hunt to re-sign the Platinum Glove winner. Yet, the ball club has expressed interest in the center field market with Starling Marte, but with him signing in New York, who else is available?
The free agency center field class is lackluster to say the least, but there are trade rumors for Arizona Diamondbacks Ketel Marte, who plays center field, shortstop and second base. A true Swiss Army Knife, that can bolster two weaker spots in the lineup for the Astros.
The Astros could explore a trade for Ketel Marte, but what would it cost?
Marte has been in Arizona since 2017, where he has picked up an All-Star appearance and the fourth most National League MVP votes in 2019.
The 28-year-old inked a five-year contract that could expire after the 2022 season, while having team options for 2023 ($8 million) and 2024 ($10 million). Marte is making $8 million in 2022, but an average annual value of $4.8 million affects the luxury tax.
The likelihood of the options being picked up are high, based on Marte’s production and game value. The switch-hitter was bit by the injury bug this season, as hamstring troubles limited him to only 90 games in 2021.
The Dominican-born ball player will be highly sought once a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is put in place, and in that wait, the Astros could weigh what they have for him. Marte could be a costly trade with his versatility and career-OPS of .802 though.
Marte is an All-Star caliber player that has spent most of his innings recently in center field but was primarily a shortstop earlier in his career in Seattle. The righty could move back to the middle-infield, if needed, and offer a sort of stop gap approach, as the Astros wait on the progressions of Jeremy Pena.
From there, Marte could play center field, a position he is not highly rated well at. He ranks in the sixth percentile in Outs Above Average and in the fifth percentile of Outfield Jump by Baseball Savant, which doesn’t show much defensive promise if the Astros attempt this route.
Marte could remain at shortstop, as Jose Altuve will be at second base for the next couple years. He is more average at the shortstop position and no where near the same defensive level of what Correa brought to the table.
It is a tricky road, regarding how Marte could fit into the lineup and in the field, but when healthy, the switch-hitter is one of the most reliable bats in baseball. The return to the Diamondbacks could contain an MLB-ready starter that pitching coach Brent Strom knows well.
Strom, of course, was the Astros’ pitching coach the last few years but is now in Arizona. It would make sense that the Diamondbacks’ front office to bring in an arm that he has already worked with, and for the Astros, they have a surplus of starters, even with Justin Verlander’s signing not becoming official.
A Marte wouldn’t reciprocate the defense lost in Correa, but it would pick up the offense lost. Along with prospects, including an MLB-ready starter with team control like Framber Valdez could eat up a large chunk of that trade, while one of Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia or even Jose Urquidy can as well.